March 2, 2022
A native of Moldova, former Deputy Speaker of the Moldovan Parliament, and Baptist Pastor since 1996, Valeriu Ghilețchi was in the U.S. early last week for a conference when he learned that any chance of flying back home to Moldova would be impossible. Russia had begun an unprovoked attack on Ukraine, a neighbor country of Moldova, and flights in and near Ukrainian airspace were canceled. Valeriu’s family remained in Moldova and in danger.
After his forced change of plans, Valeriu flew to Texas and met yesterday with BCFS System President and CEO Kevin C. Dinnin and Children’s Emergency Relief International Executive Director Connie Belciug to discuss the issues that face Ukraine and what Moldovans are doing about it. Valeriu explained that many Ukrainian refugees are coming into Moldova either to seek refuge or as a stop on the way to other European countries where they can seek shelter. Through Valeriu’s church and his ties to the Union of Christian Evangelical Baptist Churches of Moldova, his country’s people are caring for Ukrainian refugees and have even transformed an under-construction school building into a temporary shelter for refugees.
Valeriu has been a friend and partner of Children’s Emergency Relief International (CERI) since it was founded more than 20 years ago after the fall of the Soviet Union. Through CERI and other efforts, the BCFS System has been an ally to Moldova and Eastern Europe through diplomacy, legislation and direct aid to children in the region – a fact that has not changed and will not change, despite recent developments.
CERI and the BCFS System have offered all Moldovan staff members and all families that CERI serves in Moldova immediate temporary placement in a Western European country or the U.S. for 30 days. They have also given all CERI’s participants, most of whom are in Moldova’s foster care system, three months of advanced per diem payments. CERI continues to ensure the safety of the children in its programs while providing Ukrainian refugees in local shelters with food, blankets and necessities.
As Connie wrote in a recent message to CERI’s donors, the situation in her home country of Moldova is complex. It is a place where citizens have few protections but face pressures – culturally, politically and economically – from much larger countries to the east and west. No matter the complexity, and no matter what comes next, CERI and the BCFS System have been and remain ready to help the people of Eastern Europe in any and every way possible. We are so grateful to have friends like Valeriu Ghilețchi who are willing to do the same.